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November 16, 2018

Omtatah demands full disclosure on Lamu coal plant, says project unnecessary

Walid Amed Ali (C) takes part in a demonstration against Kenyan government plans to build East Africa's first coal plant near the coastal town of Lamu, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS
Walid Amed Ali (C) takes part in a demonstration against Kenyan government plans to build East Africa's first coal plant near the coastal town of Lamu, December 6, 2016. /REUTERS

A justice authority has demanded the government's full disclosure on the dealings of Lamu's Amu Power company.

Kenya for Justice and Development Trust (KEJUDE) said there is no demand for power produced by Lamu Coal Power to justify a hefty investment.

It added it was apprehensive that that government made concessions against public interests, including Kenya Power, which will be forced to purchase power it doesn't need or face punitive sanctions.

"It' suspect that the  government has undermined public interest by entering into concessions to restrict its own investments in power generation so as to accommodate the Lamu coal-fired power plant,"executive director Okiya Omtatah said.

He wrote a demand letter to Attorney General Githu Muigai, Treasury PS Kamau Thugge and his Energy counterpart Andrew Kamau.

The June 8 letter warned that failure by the officers to disclose the information and supporting documents will result in legal action.

Among documents the group wants are a copy of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) signed by Kenya Power and Amu Power, .

It also wants details made public of any loans the PPA has been used to secure or guarantee and details of any loan guarantees by government or any other agencies for the Lamu Coal Power plant.

". Given the grave concerns of this project, it is very important and very urgent that the government makes full disclosure of its dealings with Amu Power," Omtatah said.

The activist added: "Further and in particular, pursuant to articles 10 (2), 35 (1,3), 46 (1b), 73 (2d) and 232 (1b,e,f) of the constitution, we request to be given the above documents."

More on this: Why Lamu coal plant does not make sense

Also read: Is the Lamu coal power plant a poisoned chalice to the economy?

The group is questioning why President Uhuru Kenyatta led a delegation of investors  to China to oversee the securing of a Sh200 billion loan to fund the private venture.

KEJUDE argues that Kenya produces excess power, with a capacity of about 2400 MW, against a peak demand of below 1800 MW.

Omtatah said there is no justification for coal fired power plants. 

"Even if the expensive thermal power is decommissioned, installed power will still be away above the 1800 MW peak demand," he said.

Kenya's geothermal power potential is estimated to be above 10000 MW.  The future prospects in government power production stand at about 1700MW in the next five years.

The proposed Tharaka Nithi dam is set to produce 700 MW while KenGen and Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC) are in the process of producing close to 1000 MW of geothermal power.

The Lake Turkana Wind Power project has been completed and will inject an extra 300 MW into the national power grid once transmission lines are fixed.

This means the government and the Turkana project will soon inject about 2000 MW into the national grid.

Cumulatively, the installed power capacity will be over 4000 MW against a projected demand of about 3000 MW.

With the cushion of about 1000 MW, KEJUDE said there will be enough for the  occasional increase in demand, even during droughts when hydropower production is low.

Increase in power demand is an economic factor since usage largely increases as a result of growth and the connection of new domestic users.

 With an economic growth projection of about six per cent the annual increase in demand for power can at most only be slightly above this percentage.

Therefore, the expected power increase in the next five years is about 600 MW. Newly connected households may demand an extra 300 MW, bringing the total demand in the foreseeable future to just about 1000 MW, the trust said in the letter.

"The above scenario clearly shows the government can meet the expected growth in demand for power in the foreseeable future and that there is no market to justify the setting up of a coal fired power plant in Lamu. If there is no demand for power, does the PPA compel Kenya Power to buy power from the plant or does it restrict government investment in production?" Omtatah asked.

Read: Critics of Lamu coal-fired plant are corrupt, says state official

Also read: Lamu coal plant works to ‘start in two months’

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